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In one of my earlier Thanksgiving posts, I had shared a recipe for Curried Carrot Soup from my friend Rachel. Delicious! I had some great organic winter root veggies on hand and thought I would play around with that previous soup concept, but tweak it a little. I came up with a wonderful Butternut Squash Soup that also features carrots and sweet potatoes. I really liked this version’s bold flavor and heartiness! We made a dinner out of this soup and fresh baked, homemade bread. A perfect winter meal!

Unlike the previous carrot soup recipe, this particular version was not vegan, although it could be made in a vegan manner easily enough by using vegetable broth or water in place of the turkey/chicken stock.

The root vegetables, like butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots are in season right now and are looking beautiful. With butternut squash, or any squash for that matter, remember that bigger is not necessarily better. The flavor of the squash diminishes when they get too large. I used to have zucchini in my vegetable garden and once in a while one would be hidden under a leaf and we would be surprised by a 2 foot long, ginormous zucchini! At first we thought we’d hit the jackpot, but upon cooking and eating we discovered the flavor just wasn’t as good as the smaller ones. The same goes for butternut squash. I’ve found the smaller, organic ones I’ve been getting lately taste much better than the really large ones at the grocery store.

 Butternut Squash Soup

1 onion

Olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 – 3/4 tsp saffron

1/2 tsp cumin

1 chopped hot pickled okra spear

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped

 2 small or 1 large sweet potato(es), peeled and chopped

3 cups homemade turkey stock, chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk

Salt & Pepper to taste

Start your caramelized onions (see previous blog entry for these instructions) as this will take about 45 minutes. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to slow cooker and turn on high. Allow oil to warm and then add garlic, ginger, saffron and cumin. Stir and then replace lid and allow spices to become aromatic while you prepare your vegetables and onions finish caramelizing. Rough chop okra, carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes into about 1 inch chunks. Add vegetables, caramelized onions and turkey stock (see previous blog entry for making your own stock) to slow cooker, lightly salt and pepper and stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Use immersion blender to blend soup to creamy texture or transfer soup to food processor. This is where an immersion blender is a God send!!! Towards end of cooking I opted to add a ¼ of buttermilk to give it a creamier texture. You can also use regular milk or leave it out. Give it a taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

This soup also freezes beautifully, so if you have leftovers put it into individual containers for lunch or dinner at a later date or bless a friend with some homemade soup!